1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Solitary Waves

  1. Apr 9, 2007 #1
    Say we have two waves of the same amplitude are about to collide with each other.

    The preceeding wave travels at a slightly higher speed before interacting with the final wave. However, instead of passing through the final wave its speed and size is transferred into the final wave where it now possess the properties of the final initial wave. This is truely bizare. This feature only occurs for waves with the same amplitude, whereas an interaction like in figure 2, a large wave merges with a small wave for a finite amount of time with the large wave decreasing in amplitude and the small wave increasing in amplitude, then restoring its initial form after collision.

    Can anyone explain to me why waves of the same amplitude behave this way?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2007 #2
    You are working with waves in a non-linear medium. That is, the speed of waves depends on its amplitude. When a wave catches another the speed of the sum is different of the speed for each one. What happens then depends on the dependence of speed with the amplitude and the shape of the waves. It depends on the media. The behavior you describe is just one possibility.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook